Western culture loves to preach that everyone is capable of achieving any goal they want to reach. Rugged characters in our books and films, the ones who need no one else’s help to succeed, become our heroes and heroines. We enjoy the idea that every individual has the ability and the resources they need to construct their own success. Based on this storyline, the only ones who fail are those who lack the proper motivation or drive.
The problem with putting our faith in these ideas is that they are not biblical. While the long history of what we call the Protestant work ethic often baptizes this narrative in our mindset, a biblical narrative consistently recognizes our dependence on God and God’s people.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain, the psalmist preaches (v. 1). Most of us will admit that we live with too much anxiety. Stress defines modern life to such an extent that we often take pride in our ability to endure stress levels that damage us spiritually and physically. Too often we adopt our culture’s false self-reliance narratives as our own and forget that our truest story centers on the relationship God offers us. The psalm tells us that those who fail, who live a vain life, are not those who lack ambition or drive, but those who do not recognize God’s presence with us.
How do you define “being productive”? How many of your daily tasks are ultimately busy work? How would your life change if you spent more time communing with God and less time being busy?
God, help us rely on your wisdom, strength, and courage as we live these days. Show us how to live and work with you. Amen.